Category Archives: Elections

Kusema Na Kutenda – To Say and To Do!

The post-election/campaign tone and messaging of President Uhuru Kenyatta is markedly different than the tone and messaging during the just-concluded presidential campaign, especially immediately after the International Criminal Court (ICC) confirmed charges against him and his deputy Mr. Ruto. The president’s tone sounds more inclusive and atribal. It sound magnanimous and humble and indicative of someone who is coming to terms with the gravity of the office he now holds. In a recent visit to Mombasa, a region that voted overwhelmingly (76% vs. 20%) for his opponent Raila Odinga, The Daily Nation issue of April 26 quotes Mr. Kenyatta as saying that he wants to be “president of all (Kenyans) and work with all for (the) benefit of this nation.” 1 It is a sound bite that sounds great but is markedly different than the subtle and seemingly negative messages delivered at his campaign rallies where he spoke in a dialect spoken/understood by less than 20% of the very populace he claims he wants to work for! 2.

While it is normal for politicians to “reset” their messaging from the campaign and move towards the moderate center once the elections are over, they (politicians) come across as disingenuous when they go from one extreme end of the spectrum to the other on an issue. In the charged and divided polity that is post-2007 Kenya, an environment he helped create by running the type of campaign that his Jubilee Coalition run, Mr. Kenyatta has his work cut out out for him.

1 – http://www.nation.co.ke/News/politics/Ill-serve-without-discrimination-Uhuru/-/1064/1758884/-/cpou6w/-/index.html
2 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=F1rneGyRCcw

For starters, Mr. Kenyatta needs to beat the charges of crimes against humanity he is facing at The Hague, not by trying to circumvent the process, but by letting his high-priced and “foreign” legal team go face-to-face with Ms. Bensouda’s team. I want an objective hearing of the available evidence surrounding the post-election violence of 2007 by a judicial body (ICC) that is not prone to the manipulation Kenya’s judiciary is known for. I want the people who were victimized to have their day in court without fearing for their safety before and after the proceedings. If Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Ruto are as innocent as they claim to be, then the evidence will bear that out. I doubt that the ICC/West wants to be embroiled in another Omar Bashir-like situation given the verdict of the Kenyan voters; one that was confirmed by their Supreme Court. However, I hope that they (west) continue to hold Mr. Kenyatta’s feet to the fire until the (ICC) process runs its course fulfillment of the prophesy of the felled Mugumo Tree notwithstanding.

It is unfortunate that the nationalism and jingoism reflected by some comments in cyberspace prevents some Kenyans from facing the fact that the country’s institutions, the judiciary in particular, have not been free from manipulation by the rich, powerful and well-connected. It is that reality that birthed the cry “Don’t be vague, go to The Hague” and gave the country the Ocampo Six; now reduced to the Bensouda Three! And while I feel that the jingoism and tribal chauvinism will reach a crescendo if Mr. Kenyatta (and his deputy Mr. Ruto) is eventually cleared of charges at The Hague, I also believe that clearing his name AT The Hague is THE one sure way of inoculating the first government coming after the carnage of 2007 elections and the country’s supposedly “independent” institutions from charges of excessive manipulation by the hitherto “untouchable” rich and powerful personalities.

https://thetwoninetyonetracker.com/2013/04/14/be-a-sage-push-for-the-hague/

Mr. Kenyatta also needs to deal with the internally-displaced persons (IDPs) AND the land issue without the platitudinous and perfunctory “land is a means of production but not something to always fight for. Let us work together in finding a permanent solution to this problem” line from his stump speeches. To quote him: The campaigns are over, it is time to bring the country together. Let me add to that presidential appeal a special plea, a shout-out if you may, on behalf of the IDPs: It has been 5+years already; the IDPs should be re-settled!

https://thetwoninetyonetracker.com/2013/04/11/the-things-he-did-not-say/

With over 500,000 acres of prime and arable land under his family’s name, not to mention a net worth of one half BILLION dollars ($500,000,000 – Kshs. 41Billion), Mr. Kenyatta can transform said wealth into an asset, no pan intended! With most Kenyans accepting the evidence and coming to terms with the fact that the president’s father Kenyatta Pere was the “land-grabber-in-chief,” can you imagine if the president’s mother and Jomo’s 4th wife, Mama Ngina, had taken the opportunity to reach out to the internally-displaced persons she met during this photo-op by offering to re-settle them on a section of the half-a-million acres of land her late husband “acquired” instead of literally running away from the question?

The glow and honeymoon over Mr. Kenyatta’s election is fast-coming to an end to be replaced by the Sisyphean’s work of governing a divided polity. As presumptuous as this may sound, I would advise “my brother Uhuru” to dispense with the platitudes and let his actions do the talking:

STOP SEMARING AND START TENDARING!

STOP WITH THE PROCLAMATIONS AND LET YOUR ACTIONS SPEAK!!

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Getting His Groove?

I know it is a bit premature, but it looks like President Uhuru Kenyatta is finding his groove as president of a perilously divided Kenya. The meeting held at the State House on April 13, 2013 between the president, his deputy William Ruto and CORD leaders Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka gave this Kenyan a reason to be optimistic about the tone of leadership and types of leaders the country of his birth elected into office. The picture on the front page of the Daily Nation dated April 13, 2013 of the four men sharing a hearty laugh is, to use a cliché, priceless! That picture is one of intense political rivals who appear able to put aside their deep oftentimes acrimonious political rivalry for the greater good (of a country divided). Indeed this is one picture that is worth more than a thousand words. Hopefully the increasingly rabid supporters of the two sides can take their cue from said picture and cool down the tension, especially online.

Add to the State House meeting between the two top candidates of the just-concluded presidential contest and their deputies the fact that on Friday, April 19, the two men – Uhuru and Raila – both attended the burial of the late Secretary-General of the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) David Okuta Osiany in Nyando, near Kisumu. Reports of the two principals walking hand-in-hand towards the grave of the late leader of the teachers’ union is a powerful image that will go a long way in endearing Mr. Kenyatta towards a Luo community that overwhelmingly voted for Raila Odinga. The visuals of the president and his erstwhile challenger reportedly walking hand-in-hand towards the grave of Mr. Osiany is one that should be played and re-played over and over again until it is seared in the collective minds of all Kenyans, especially the two communities represented by the president and his “older brother.”

I will argue that President Uhuru Kenyatta’s overtures towards Mr. Okuta, and by extension the Luo community from which the dearly-departed hailed, has been the polar opposite of his father’s behavior towards said community. Kenyatta Pere’s conduct towards his chief political rival Oginga Odinga, indeed towards the Luo community during his presidency, came across as condescending, disrespectful and full of disdain. One can make a compelling argument that his government’s policies towards the region (Nyanza) were consistent with the fore-going characterization. Additionally, the July 1969 murder of Tom Mboya, supposedly on the orders of the “Big Man” (rumored to be Jomo Kenyatta or someone very close to him) started the alienation of the Luo community from the country’s leaders. Add to the anguish and fury over Mboya’s death, the war of words that erupted between Kenyatta Pere and Odinga Pere during the opening of the New Nyanza General Hospital in Kisumu in October 1969. The acerbic verbal exchange between the two doyens of Kenya’s post-independence politics and the ensuing violent and disproportionate response by Kenyatta’s security towards the predominantly Luo crowd in that charged atmosphere that resulted in the death of hundreds (of Luos) only firmed alienation of the community from a government they all believed was unfair and responsible for the death of one of their own (Tom Mboya)!

Granted the president and his deputy were inaugurated less than two weeks ago on April 9, 2013 for a two hundred and sixty week-term in office i.e. 5yrs x 52weeks/year. Additionally, Mr. Kenyatta is yet to name his cabinet which he claims will “reflect the true face of Kenya.” Finally, it is important to note that the parliament and the public has yet to begin the vetting process on the selected members of Kenyatta’s cabinet; a process that can be very messy and has been described stateside as “making sausage.” The latter – making sausage – is an expression that alludes to the ugliness of the sausage-making process that includes blending animal parts that most people do not normally eat by themselves with spices and other additives to produce sausage, a product most people gladly devour without hesitation! It will be interesting to see how Mr. Kenyatta deals with the process previously seen by his predecessors including his father Jomo Kenyatta and those around them as their opportunity to “eat matundu ya uhuru.” In a clear illustration of the adage “elections have consequences,” the deal-making and backroom power-sharing agreements between the winners collectively have the potential to further widen the gulf between the various communities represented by Uhuru’s Jubilee Coalition and Raila’s CORD.

It is my hope that Mr. Kenyatta’s actions since the Supreme Court ruled in his favor are beyond symbolic and definitely not photo-ops – photo opportunities i.e. carefully planned and recorded events often masked as news(worthy) and intended to present those in the photograph, in this case Mr. Kenyatta, in a positive light. I hope Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Ruto make decisions that support the positive start and statements they have made and have been making early in their administration. I will take it a step further and opine that the president and his deputy should worry more about the advise offered by those around them than about what Raila and Kalonza will do next. Kenya’s history is littered with presidential aides and others with access to the corridors of power who acted selfishly by lining their pockets and fattening their bank accounts while claiming to act on “behalf of Bwana Mkubwa” or “The Big Man.” It is the actions of these selfish individuals that tend to erect a bubble/filter around the president thereby alienating him from the plight of everyday citizens.

Uhuru can put an end to this cycle by ensuring that his administration does not join the pantheon of corrupt and tribalistic administrations of yesteryears nor reflect the tyranny of the majority as embodied by the jingoism and hubris reflected in the comments made in cyberspace by his supporters.

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Filed under 2013 Presidential Elections, Corruption, Democracy, Elections, Governance - Kenya, Kenya, Politics, Tribalism, Tribe, Uncategorized

Be a Sage; Push for The Hague!

And all it took was three days after their inauguration on April 9, 2013 for two of the three ICC suspects, through their surrogate deputy UN ambassador Ms. Koki Muli Grignon, to begin a concerted effort to have their trials moved from The Hague to the “the jurisdiction of the nation’s (Kenya’s) judicial institutions” as reported in the article “Newly-appointed envoy leads bid to bring Hague cases back home” that appeared on the April 12 issue of the Daily Nation.

I will remind Ms. Grignon that the sole reason her boss Mr. Kenyatta and his deputy Mr. Ruto are being tried at the comparatively independent and definitely “unbwogable” International Criminal Court (ICC) is because a majority of parliamentarians including the president himself came up with the catchy phrase “Don’t be vague, let’s go to The Hague” in response to efforts by some local politicians who wanted those suspected of fomenting the post-election violence (PEV) in 2007/2008 to be tried in Kenya; a suggestion considered a non-starter by many because Kenya’s judiciary had/has NEVER been free of manipulation by the high and mighty. I am sure Ms. Grignon remembers the cute hook that was all the rage after Justice Philip Waki’s team had completed its investigation of the post-election violence of 2007/2008 and handed its report to President Kibaki in October 2008; the team hand the names of the suspects to former UN Sec-Gen Ghanaian Dr. Kofi Annan. That the current president and his deputy ended up at The Hague instead of the Supreme Court of Kenya is no one’s fault other than that of the Kibaki government; the very government Mr. Kenyatta was a member of as a Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance! I will take it a step further and argue that the “axis of impunity” that Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta saluted and paid tribute to during Tuesday’s inauguration – Jomo Kenyatta, Daniel Moi and Mwai Kibaki – set in motion then entrenched the system of governance that weakened the supposedly independent institutions including the judiciary making it very easy for those who were calling for the PEV suspects to be tried at The Hague to carry the day.

Ms. Grignon is either naïve or believes that the majority of Kenyans who initially sought to have the crimes against humanity cases brought before the ICC are not cognizant of how prone to manipulation Kenya’s supposedly “independent” institutions are! On the other hand, the just–concluded election of two of the three principals facing those very charges may have given said individuals – Uhuru and Ruto – and their surrogate Ms. Koki Grignon the impetus, indeed the gumption or like they say stateside, “huevos” or chutzpah to redouble the efforts to bring the proceedings in front of a judiciary they have more sway over.

I strongly urge Ms. Bensouda and the ICC, indeed the UN Security Council to reject any attempts by the Kenyatta administration to bring adjudication of the PEV charges to the still-suspect Kenyan judiciary and I say this with all due respect to CJ Mutunga and his band of merry men and women. I do not put it past the richest man in the country indeed one of the richest in Africa, Mr. Kenyatta, to use his family’s considerable wealth to buy the acquiescence of the Kenyan Supreme Court ergo his outright freedom or considerable reduction in repercussions steming from the charges. I am not sure who said this but “every man and woman has a price.” With a net worth of close to half a billion dollars or approximately kshs. 41,000,000,000 (forty-one BILLION shillings at the current exchange rate of $1 = kshs. 82/=), no one should doubt the willingness of Mr. Kenyatta and his family to use that formidable wealth to fight, tooth and nail, the ICC.

We have already seen the ICC lose some witnesses who have either recanted their testimony or flatly refused to testify. Some of the recantations happened before the two suspects were elected to the presidency and vice-presidency respectively. Kenyans and their Supreme Court elected and finally arbitrated the duo into office with the April 9th inauguration. I only expect the pressure on the remaining witnesses to intensify as July 9, the day the trials are scheduled to begin, draws nearer. Jonah Anguka’s book Absolute Power: The Ouko Murder Mystery details the brutal 1990 murder of Kenya’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation. In a chapter titled “Convenient Deaths,” (pgs. 219-229), the author writes that following Dr. Ouko’s death, so many material witnesses and people connected to the case died in a manner and at rate that Kenyans were left wondering whether the deaths were by happenstance or “deliberate” targeted killings.(pg. 219) Mr. Anguka adds that the deaths could have been convenient for anyone bent on covering their involvement in the minister’s murder. He then suggests that the deaths of these people may also have been used to instill fear in the minds of potential witnesses. For the record, I counted a total of fourteen (14) people connected to Dr. Ouko’s death who either died or went missing before being questioned by the authorities or shortly thereafter.

Another book – The Risks of Knowledge – co-written by David William Cohen and E. S. Atieno Odhiambo describes the investigation into the death of Mr. Ouko. No one can read Chapter 3 titled “Ouko’s Pain” (pge. 73-89) and not feel how terrified the Foreign Minister was about his personal safety after his return from a visit to the United States as a member of a delegation headed by then-president Moi. Mr. Ouko is described as pleading with Mr. Hezekiah Oyugi, the Permanent Secretary in-charge of internal security in the Office of the President to talk with President Moi and intercede “with the powers on his behalf.” (pge. 77) to which the late PS offers the incredulously callous response: “If you have collided with Nyayo (Moi), shauri yako (tough luck). I give you only two days!” It is a chilling and disturbing read, indeed a sad and painful imploration of a man who knows he is about to die; which indeed did happen shortly after the pleas fell on deaf ears. It also captures the ruthlessness of (our) leaders, including those who profess their religiosity at every opportunity. In a classic tale of “what goes around comes around,” Mr. Oyugi himself later died under extremely mysterious and suspicious circumstances; one of the fourteen people connected with Ouko’s death who either died or disappeared before they could be questioned on the matter.

I have to admit that the Ouko assassination remains very personal for me: He was from Nyahera, Kisumu – the same area as my mother. Uncle Bob as we called him also taught my mom at Ogada Intermediate Primary School, also in Nyahera. Robert’s mother and my maternal grandmother were both from Kano-Kolwa and were very close friends. The point of the fore-going digression on to the death of Robert Ouko is to illustrate the malleability of the Kenyan judicial system the new Constitution notwithstanding. The sad fact is that I could have chosen any one of several national tragedies the country has experienced in the last generation – the assassinations of Pio Gama Pinto, Tom Mboya, JM Kariuki or the multi-billion shillings scandals such as Goldenberg, Anglo-Leasing, Sololo, Grand Regency – to illustrate the incompetence of its judiciary. If the PEV trials of President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy are brought under the jurisdiction of Kenya’s judicial institutions, it is not inconceivable that the two suspects or those around them may choose to play fast and loose and eventually hardball with the local institutions, not to mention the persons tasked with “investigating” the charges currently sitting on Ms. Fatou Bensouda’s docket at the ICC.

Kenyans seem to have a very short and selective memory of events that should be hard-coded in the country’s collective memory. The significant emotional memory of the brutal murder of the country’s former Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr. Robert Ouko and the ensuing joke of an investigation should still be seared in the consciousness and psyche of the country. Mr. Anguka quotes the late Justice Fidahussein Abdullah, a judge on the Ouko Commission who also died in the midst of the “investigations” as saying “(Kenya) is a country where guilty go scot-free, but the innocent (are) incarcerated, where Goldenbergs and Sololo flaunt their wealth and live lavishly but children of the streets arm themselves with faeces to beg, where inciters of violence are condoned but preachers of peace are condemned…Let us stop this rot..now or tomorrow it will be too late.” (pge. 227)

Both Mr. Anguka and the late Justice Abdullah contend that the rich and powerful in Kenya act with impunity that is near-total because they have the money and the connection: Mr. Kenyatta’s mentor is none other than former President Moi, originator of the “Uhuru Project” and the very person Dr. Ouko was begging Mr. Hezekiah Oyugi to have intercede on his behalf.

If the history of Kenya is anything to go by re: dealing with high-profile politically charged legal matters, Ms. Grignon, the country, indeed all who want justice for the victims of the post-election violence should not be naive, they should be sagacious and stay with The Hague – the one entity along with the seemingly indefatigable Ms. Bensouda, that may just be beyond manipulation, at least by Kenya’s rich and powerful.

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The things he did NOT say

In a three thousand two hundred and forty-four worded (3,244) inauguration speech, President Uhuru Kenyatta devoted only one hundred and seventeen (117) to the issue of land. And of the 117 words addressing the land issue, one can argue that just forty-two – approximately 1.3% of the total number of words in the speech – dealt with the issue from the perspective that has been at the heart of disputes between the various communities in the country. The president said this:

My government will strive to work with all actors to ensure that the issue of land will never again be a contentious or a divisive subject but rather that land will be seen as what it truly is, a factor of production.”

Nowhere in the speech did the president touch on nor propose any solutions to the plight of the internally-displaced people (IDPs). Nowhere in the speech that has been praised and panned alike did Mr. Kenyatta talk about the impact of corruption or the many other isms that have and continue to sap the nation of its will and drive to excel.

What I heard from the in-coming president were lofty platitudinous themes and lines. While these lofty and grandiose alliterations are to be expected in an inauguration speech, that they seemingly came at the expense of what in my opinion were more pressing issues – addressing the issue of land ownership with the seriousness it deserves and not in passing, the still-unresolved suffering of thousands of Kenyans who were uprooted from their homes by the post-election violence of 2007 and the widespread and rampant (official) corruption – is alarming and portends the (misplaced) priorities of the in-coming administration.

I understand that there is a time and place for everything. I also realize that one should never miss an opportunity to make an impact. That the person being inaugurated as president was also the son of the country’s first president added to the momentous nature of the occasion. Additionally, the inauguration of Kenya’s 4th President in the wake of the colossal failure of the election and “inauguration” of 2007 was, in my opinion, an occasion tailor-made for making an impact; illustrating the stark contrast between the transition of power now and then; not to mention that the person being inaugurated was one of three persons accused, along with his deputy, of funding and instigating the crimes against humanity after the same failed elections of 2007! The fore-going three reasons set the stage for Mr. Kenyatta to use the occasion to convey to the country that his administration was serious about the country’s long term progress and stability.

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s inauguration speech should have addressed the tri-headed monsters of land ownership, resettlement of the IDPs and the rampant (official) corruption.

It did not.

Maybe the fact that the three people most responsible for creating, perpetuating and exacerbating the culture of land-grabbing, corruption, nepotism and tribalism were sitting right behind President Kenyatta on the VIP dais dissuaded him from pointedly addressing them.

  • The inauguree and in-coming president, Kenyatta Fils was representing his father Kenyatta Pere, who as Kenya’s founding father has been lionized and immortalized in the annals of the country’s history. I would add to this near-deification of the country’s first president an asterisk and the qualifier that Kenyatta Pere single-handedly created the country’s land problems, not to mention its tribal divisions and the culture of patronage shortly after it gained independence from the British. In a cruel twist of irony reflected in a narrative germinated by the principals of the victorious Jubilee Coalition during the run-up to the just-concluded elections, Kenyatta Son is facing judgment by the same “foreigners” who imprisoned Kenyatta Father in Kapenguria during Kenya’s fight for independence! The more things change, the more they stay the same!
  • Mr. Moi – need I say more?
  • Mr. Kibaki came into the presidency in 2002 with as much goodwill and support as any president of a diverse country would want. Both the goodwill and support was broad and deep. The country was unified AGAINST the one person most Kenyans blamed for the downturn in its economy, social cohesiveness and international standings – Daniel Arap Moi. Fast forward five years later to 2007 and like they say, the rest is history. No amount of revisionism can change the fact that Mr. Kibaki’s “re-election” in 2007 and the surreptitious “swearing-in” under cover of dark amidst wide-spread charges of ballot-stuffing and an assortment of shenanigans combined to convulse Kenya into Rwanda Part Deux.

Like I said in previous posts, I am willing to cut Mr. Kenyatta some slack as he steadies himself into the presidency; a combined Herculean and Sisyphean task if ever there was one. On the other hand, I would be remiss if I failed to listen to and analyze his inauguration speech without pointing out the blatant and glaring omissions i.e. what the in-coming president did not say.

It is my opinion that what Mr. Kenyatta did not say in his inauguration speech does not augur well for his ability, indeed willingness to address and give the issues of land ownership, re-settlement of the IDPs and official corruption the import they deserve.

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Filed under 2013 Presidential Elections, Corruption, Elections, Governance - Kenya, IDPs, Justice, Kenya, Politics, The Hague, Tribalism

On Hubris and Jingoism

Hubris (pron.: /ˈhjuːbrɪs/), also hybris, from ancient Greek ὕβρις, means extreme pride or arrogance. Hubris often indicates a loss of contact with reality and an overestimation of one’s own competence or capabilities, especially when the person exhibiting it is in a position of power.

Jingoism (pron.: jingo-ism), extreme patriotism in the form of aggressive foreign policy.[1] In practice, it is a country’s advocation of the use of threats or actual force against other countries in order to safeguard what it perceives as its national interests. Colloquially, it refers to excessive bias in judging one’s own country as superior to others—an extreme type of nationalism. The term originated in Britain, expressing a pugnacious attitude toward Russia in the 1870s, and appeared in the American press by 1893.

Both definitions are from the following website http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page.

Unfortunately, I am not on the ground back in Kenya to get a true sense of what the “Kenyan street” is saying or feeling about the just adjudicated elections. What I do have is unfettered and dare I say reliable access to the internet and some of the best research facilities in the world – Stanford and Cal Berkeley’s libraries and book stores. I also have the freedom to articulate and publish my perspectives as I see fit – obviously without slandering or libeling others. I make it a point to religiously read the online versions of the Daily Nation and Standard newspapers not to mention the various publications about Kenya, the region and the continent. Beyond reading the articles, I also read the blogs and the comments other readers make in response to the various articles. I have to say that the hubris and jingoism, especially among supporters of the victorious Jubilee Coalition who seem to dominate the Daily Nation comment section is comparable to the hubris and jingoism I saw among supporters of the victorious Republican Party shortly after the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of George W. Bush during the disputed 2000 elections versus Democrat Al Gore. I also think that the chest-thumping is not limited to the general readership of the paper(s). One can discern the political bias or inclination of opinion makers such as Professor Makau, Macharia Gathaio, Philip Ochieng, Jaindi Kisero; at least I can just like one can tell the political bias of some American opinion makes such as George Will, Fred Barnes, Charles Krauthammer, E.J Dionne, Cynthia Tucker etc.

Below are samples of the comments made in response to the article Obama urges Uhuru, Ruto to build on gains of new constitution that appeared in the April 5 issue of Daily Nation and the April 5 issue of The Standard in the article titled Obama congratulates President-elect Uhuru

moses •3 hours ago
“This so called “humans” should first deal with countries which are a threat to them and the world like Iran and North Korea then come and tell us your humain ideas coz you think others are less “Human” than you.”

Langat 5 April 2013 3:22 PM
“I expected the americans to be told to ‘o jump into a lake with their unwanted message. We ARE a sovereign state & dont need them. Heck we should be sidelining them so they know ‘choices have consequences.”

Musema kweli•a day ago
“Better late than never. Or do we say they swallowed their pride?”

ngigien•a day ago
“Wonderful! twin elect looks inseparable. UhuRuto please go ahead and don’t look back, these westerners are late comers but they will join the train one by one as we head to promised land”

As evidenced by a previous post titled “Where is the outrage over “their” hypocrisy?” I don’t necessarily disagree with some of the sentiments expressed by the comments posted in Kenya’s local dailies. In fact, some of the comments are very instructive, indeed prescient. What I find troubling is the hubristic and jingoistic tone of most of them. And in keeping with the similarities I see between Kenya’s Jubilee Coalition and America’s Republican Party, there is an arrogance reflected in most of the comments in the blogosphere that belies the reality of the global village we all live in, not to mention the realpolitik nature of relationships between nations. The reality is that relationships between most nations are based on power (economic, cultural, military etc.) and other practical factors even though the ideal situation would be for nations to minimize use of power, particularly military power in their dealings with one another and base their relationship on mutual respect and shared interests. All told, nations act in their (selfish) best interests and most have no qualms imposing their will on other nations if they have to and can!

As embodied by the Republican administrations of former B-actor Ronald Reagan and a son of privilege Bush Fils (George W. Bush), there is the “God is on our side, we are right and you are wrong” take on their approach to governing that I see reflected in the afterglow of Jubilee’s victory. Langat’s post best captures the hubris and jingoism I allude to and is akin to George W. Bush’s “you are with us or against us” mantra in the weeks after the tragedy of 9/11. A mantra dripping with such haughtiness, self-righteousness and jingoism that the majority of the country, including the American press failed to fully verify the claims that Iraq had WMDs or that its leader, Saddam Hussein was complicit in 9/11. Mehopes the world, including Jubilee and its supporters have learnt from the hubris of George W. Bush and the Neo-cons.

We all agree that President-elect Kenyatta was democratically elected and Supreme Court-approved as the fourth president of Kenya and that notwithstanding, I hope that I am misinterpreting his contention that diplomatic contacts between the two countries (Kenya and US) would be between the democratically elected leaders i.e. between him Mr. Kenyatta, a crimes-against-humanity suspect and Mr. Obama the “the leader of the free world” otherwise this would be the height of hubris and inflated self-importance – on Mr. Kenyatta’s part.

Memo to Mr. Kenyatta:
The President of the United States does not meet with suspects, definitely not knowingly, certainly not those facing charges at The Hague! That he, Mr. Obama, sent the Ambassador with a seemingly reconciliatory message was itself unusual and indicative of the delicate balance the US (and the West) has to strike in its relationship with Kenya given the charges facing Mr. Kenyatta and his VP Mr. Ruto. The world has become very inter-dependent and Kenya and America have mutual interests that make it imperative for the two countries to work together. Methinks that it behoves all, especially the seemingly jingoistic supporters of Jubilee to remember that the US is the sole superpower left in the wake of the Cold War even though one can argue that the world is fast-becoming multi-polar with various power centres – US, EU, Russia, China, Brasil, India etc. Be that as it may, I would say that unlike the other global centres of power, America is most likely the only one that has both hard and soft power whose impact and reach is truly global. While American military might has its limitations as evidenced in Iraq and Afghanistan, the latter, soft power, is very nuanced, potentially limitless and possibly more debilitating to the aggressively capitalist Kenya.

I would caution Jubilee and its leadership and supporters to pay close attention to the trajectory of the Republican Party here in America, its supporters and the presidency of Bush Fils after the Supreme Court ruling got him into the White House in the 2000 election. I would argue that the “victory” got to their head and the rest, as they say, is history. Pride indeed comes before a fall.

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Filed under 2013 Presidential Elections, Democracy, Elections, Governance - Kenya, International Relations/Global Issues, Kenya, Politics

Proceed With Caution!

Finally, those arrogant “foreigners” and their “tools” have recognized the “will of the Kenyan people!” The international community (read the West – UK, USA, EU and UN) has rightfully congratulated Uhuru Kenyatta’s Supreme Court-validated victory in the 2013 Election. It is also instructive that United Kingdom, United States and the United Nation commended soon-to-former Prime Minister Raila Odinga for his acceptance of the Court’s ruling. As expected, the public outpouring of jingoism and protestations manifested itself almost immediately around the country albeit with less fervor, certainly not with the violence and vehemence witnessed in 2007! For those patting themselves on the back because their “side won” or that the country elected a president sans violence, let me point out the intensity, rawness and very tribal tone of the passions emoted in the blogosphere as I expected. The “security” offered by the “anonymity” of cyberspace provides a cautionary view, small and blurry as it may be, into the overall mood – of the Kenyan electorate.

To reiterate two points I made in earlier posts, Kenya is a nation divided along lines that pit the two most populous tribes and “providers” of all three of the country’s past presidents on one side and the rest of the country on the other side. I will also reiterate that far from seeking to stoke an “Us vs. Them” narrative or inter-tribal animus as I have been accused of doing in the past, the fact is this election was won because the GEMA (Gikuyu, Embu and Meru) and the Kalenjin communities aligned with one another basically against the rest of the country. A look at the voting pattern of the attached electoral map fully illustrates the tribal divide: http://geocurrents.info/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Kenya-2013-Election-Map.png. The Kalenjin, according to the website SoftKenya.com is a term for a collection of at least ten sub-groups that used to be referred to as the “Nandi-speaking tribes”. These sub-groups, of which the Kipisigis is the most populous, created a singular tribal identity for themselves in the 1950s to gain more political power from their numbers1. I would argue that they have succeeded albeit in the true sense of the term “marriage of convenience!”

The “sons” of the Gikuyu and Kalenjin communities Messer’s Kenyatta and Ruto convinced said communities that collectively, they were all under attack by “foreigners” and their “agents”, the latter a dark allusion to CORD’s Raila Odinga.5 The irony of this claim by Jubilee’s William Ruto is that his ally and namesake Mr. Isaac Ruto was a founding member of the group of Members of Parliament (MPs) who coined the expression “Don’t be vague, go to The Hague” in the wake of the post-election violence of 2007! 3, 4 Politics is indeed the art of the possible. It also makes the strangest of bedfellows! Suffice to say, Jubilee’s argument won the day and now the “sons” of the these two communities (tribes) are the leaders of Kenya, a country of over forty (40) different tribes, a majority who voted for their opponents (Odinga and Kalonzo) based on an analysis of the vote tallies from the IEBC website (please don’t laugh!)

The 833,000 vote or ~7% margin of victory the Jubilee coalition had over CORD would be a mandate if it were spread throughout (larger parts of) the country and representative of a broader cross-section of the country. This was a regional and tribal victory, the latter necessitated by the shared misery the two – Uhuru and Ruto – share courtesy of their date with the International Criminal Court (ICC) ergo the message delivered by the US along with the congratulatory message: The White House pointed out “the importance of Kenya’s commitment to uphold its international obligations, including those with respect to international justice”, characterized by the Daily Nation as “an indirect reference to the charges that Mr. Kenyatta and Deputy President-elect William Ruto are facing at the International Criminal Court at The Hague.”2

That a larger (geographical) swath of the country representing a larger cross-section of Kenyans voted against the president and vice-president-elect should give the two and their exceedingly vociferous and jingoistic constituents pause. That Jubilee’s victory was fueled by a narrow but populous group within the country should temper their exuberance, especially now that the omni-present and love-to-hate “international community” has sent congratulatory messages to their “sons.

1 – http://softkenya.com/tribe/kalenjin-tribe/
2 – http://www.nation.co.ke/News/politics/Obama-UN-boss-praise-Uhurus-win/-/1064/1735738/-/783xmq/-/index.html
3 – http://elections.nation.co.ke/Blogs/-/1632026/1695348/-/10tq9hf/-/index.html
4 – http://www.nation.co.ke/oped/Letters/Politicians-failed-Kenyans/-/440806/1690078/-/r56otj/-/index.html
5 – http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/09/30/ozatp-icc-kenya-idAFJOE78T01P20110930

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Filed under 2013 Presidential Elections, Democracy, Elections, Kenya, Politics, Tribalism, Tribe

Clerical Errors and Kitu Kidogo

As disappointed as I am that the Supreme Court of Kenya (SCOK) has validated the results of the 2013 Elections despite what I would describe as compelling evidence of “massive systemic failure” of the election process, I respect its decision and commit to move on. And as noted in a previous post “The Loyal Opposition and The Fruit,” I fully expected SCOK to uphold Jubilee’s victory review of the polling data notwithstanding. I also noted that when it came to pass, the losing CORD candidates, Raila Odinga in particular, should play the role of the respectful and loyal opposition while mentoring upcoming socio-political leaders. His experience as a reformer is invaluable.

I respect SCOK’s decision because according to the March 30 issue of the Daily Nation in an article titled Supreme Court upholds Uhuru’s election as president, the decision was unanimous. It is encouraging that the five (5) justices AND their chief, Chief Justice Mutunga ALL agreed that Messr’s Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto were validly elected as president and vice-president respectively. I am, however, left wondering whether the phenomenon groupthink1 was at work here.

1 – A psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people, in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an incorrect or deviant decision-making outcome.

Like someone told me the other day: Opinions are like (fill in your favorite part of the human anatomy), everyone has one. To wit; it is my opinion that SCOK’s decision overlooked the data as presented by Ms. Kilonzo and Mr. Oraro including the admission by Jubilee’s own lawyer Mr. Ngatia that even though there were admitted “clerical errors” tallying the various results from the sampled polling centers, “no mischief” was intended “at all!” I am not a statistician but I have worked and interacted with some of the best statisticians and mathematicians over the past 20+ years in the medical device manufacturing industry here in Silicon Valley. I will say that if I conducted a test that yielded data similar to the data set presented before SCOK by Ms. Kilonzo and Mr. Oraro, peer review would fail my test and compel me to repeat said test – period! The one qualifier I would add to my contention is this: The threshold for reliability of and confidence in election results based on a small sampling of selected polling stations may be different from that reliability and confidence requirements for testing/qualifying processes used to manufacture medical devices!

If ever there was a metaphor for the Kenyan culture of “Kitu Kidogo,” I would say that the process and outcome of the petition filed by CORD is apt! We have Mr. Fred Ngatia, the plaintiff’s lawyer conceding that there were indeed small “clerical errors” whose intentions were not “mischievous at all” – tallying errors nonetheless. We then have the same Mr. Ngatia convincing the SCOK that these “clerical errors” did not invalidate the outcome of the election of his clients and crimes-against-humanity suspects Messer’s Kenyatta and Ruto to the highest offices in the country! I would say that consistent and widespread “clerical errors” tallying and tabulating votes that may potentially determine the outcome of a presidential election deserve more than a flippant characterization and review, especially by the highest court in the land! The frivolity with which Mr. Ngatia portrayed the tallying errors is consistent with the way most Kenyan’s think about bribery, corruption and cutting corners in general; indeed a national Rorschach Test whose outcome is very disturbing:

It is just “kitu kidogo – something small” to expedite issuance of a driver’s license, conveniently overlook some code violations when conducting a building or road inspection or “miss” seeing the bald front tires or faulty brakes on a public service vehicle during a traffic stop! No “mischief” may have been intended in the foregoing scenarios but the end results of these “vitu vidogo” is there for all to see: Drivers who can barely drive let alone understand/obey traffic rules, construction – roads and buildings – that crumble and fall apart shortly after being commissioned leaving death, destruction and misery in their wake and carnage on the road due to accidents caused by a combination of ill-gotten driver’s licenses, drunk driving, vehicles that are not road-worthy and supposed highways in various stages of dis-repair. In short, the culture of so-called and allegedly un-mischievous/benign “clerical errors, typos, computer glitches, vitu vidogo” has mutated into a cancer that is slowly but surely killing the national spirit and cohesion! But hey…”nothing mischievous was intended.” It was just something small.

The foregoing aside, the Supreme Court has rendered its verdict: Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta and William Samoei Ruto are scheduled to be sworn in as President and Vice-President of Kenya on April 9, 2013. They will then have about two months before they board the plane to The Hague for their date with Ms. Fatu Bensouda on charges of crimes against the very humanity that elected them into office.

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Filed under 2013 Presidential Elections, Corruption, Democracy, Elections, Justice, Kenya, Politics

The REAL Tyranny Of Numbers – Cont’d

At least we now have Jubilee’s lawyer Mr. Fred Ngatia conceding that “there may have been clerical errors here and there…” even as he quickly follows that concession with a Ronald Reaganesque-like addendum that “….no mischief can be attributed to these (clerical errors) at all.” And since he, Mr. Ngatia, on behalf of his clients who are both facing criminal charges at The Hague, say that “no mischief can be attributed to the ‘clerical error’,” all Kenyans should believe him! These individuals, Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Ruto that is, are after all paragons of virtue and integrity!
To paraphrase a popular saying here in the US: a clerical error here, a typing error there, a computer glitch here, a rounding error there and soon we have an 833,000 voting advantage!

The “clerical errors” with no mischievous intent include the following:

1. Addition to tallied vote numbers
2. Subtraction from tallied vote numbers
3. Inability to verify numbers of votes cast even though “official” results show one candidate receiving five-figure vote total
4. Missing aggregate results from Form 36 (used to tally final vote counts).
5. Multiple Forms 36 from same polling station
6. Different aggregate results from different Forms 36 from the same polling station
7. Incomplete Forms 36.

To use another popular expression stateside, especially amongst our distant cousins, African-Americans: Ni**a please!!

Add to the laundry list of “clerical errors” Nani Mungai’s (IEBC’s lawyer) “document dump” explanation that the IEBC “provide thousands of green books for scrutiny to address allegations of having more votes than registered votes” and we have a classic but obvious cover-up attempt by a bureaucracy! For those not familiar with a “document dump,” Wikipedia explains it thus:

Document Dump: The act of responding to an adversary’s request for information by presenting the adversary with a large quantity of data that is transferred in a manner that indicates unfriendliness, hostility, or a legal conflict between the transmitter and the receiver of the information. The shipment of dumped documents is unsorted, or contains a large quantity of information that is extraneous to the issue under inquiry, or is presented in an untimely manner, or some combination of these three characteristics. The phrase is often used by lawyers (and politicians)…It is often seen as part of the characteristic behavior of an entity that is engaging in an ongoing pattern of activities intended to cover up unethical or criminal conduct.

The REAL Tyranny of Numbers – Cont’d1

• Number of constituencies identified as having anomalies: 22
• % of constituencies identified as having anomalies: 7.6% (22/291)
• Number of anomalous constituencies that voted for Kenyatta: 11
• Number of anomalous constituencies that voted for Odinga: 11
• Number of votes received from anomalous constituencies: 594,985 vs. 339,096 (Kenyatta v. Odinga)
• % of votes from anomalous constituencies: 9.6% vs. 6.1% ((Kenyatta v. Odinga)

1 – Source: Daily Nation, March 28, 2013, Recount reveals vote irregularities.

A back-of-a-napkin analysis of the foregoing numbers point to a systemic failure of the election process during the 2013 Elections. In analyzing 7.6% of the constituencies, we have anomalies affecting 6-10% of the votes cast! Expand this to all 291 constituencies and we have an (election) outcome that is an epic failure and is absolutely unreliable; one that confirms CORD’s basic contention of a massive breakdown of Kenya’s electioneering process/system during the elections necessitating negation or questioning of the final results.

If the data provided by the re-count and summarized above does not provide the Supreme Court with enough evidence to prove CORD’s contention, then I am not sure how they are interpreting the results of the recount nor do I don’t know what more they need to address CORD’s petition. I make this statement irrespective of who benefits from the breakdown.

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The REAL Tyranny of Numbers!

  1. Number of votes separating Uhuru and Raila: 832,887 or 6,173,433 vs. 5,340,5463
  2. IEBC budget for providing the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) kits: kshs. 3.82billion1
  3. Number of bids to supply the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) kits: 41
  4. Highest bid: kshs. 8.31billion (OnTrack, Israel)1
  5. Lowest bid: kshs. 3.76billion (4G ID Solutions, India)1
  6. Winning bid: kshs. 4.63billion (Face Technology, South Africa – 2nd highest bid)1
  7. Difference between reported IEBC budget for BVR Kits and winning bid: ~kshs. 810Million over budget (4.63b – 3.82b)
  8. Poll data source/location analyzed/presented to Supreme Court by Ms. Kethi Kilonzo: 32
  9. Total number of polling stations in the country: 33,4003
  10. % of polling stations whose no. of registered voters differ from the no. of votes cast/reported by the IEBC: 0.0001%2
  11. The increase in Mr. Kenyatta’s vote count in Nyeri due to discrepancy between votes – county vs. IEBC: 0.31% or 317,881 vs. 318,8802
  12. The decrease in Mr. Odinga’s vote count in Nyeri due to discrepancy between votes – county vs. IEBC: 7.8% or 6,075 vs. 5,6382
  13. % difference between registered voters and votes tabulated as received in Charity Primary School Kieni : 31,000% or 1 registered voter vs. 310 votes received2
  14. % difference between registered voters and final votes tallied/reported in Machakos Town: 2,546% or 125 registered voters vs. 3,182 votes tallied/reported2
  15. Lowest discrepancy noted: 0.31% in Nyeri2
  16. Highest discrepancy noted: 31,000% in Kieni, Nyeri2
  17. % gap between Uhuru and Raila: 6.76% or 50.07% vs. 43.31%3
  18. The total number of constituencies in the country – 291 (including Diaspora)3

1 – Source: Africa’s Public Procurement & Entrepreneurship Research Initiative (APPERI), Kenya: IEBC Tender Team Quits over Biometric Deal, July 16, 2012.

2 – Source: Presentation by Kethi Kilonzo before Supreme Court, Daily Nation, March 27, 2012, The Poll was a fraud on voters, argues lawyer.

3 – Source: IEBC Website (link from previous post http://www.kenyaelections.com/wp-content/uploads/SUMMARY-OF-2013-PRESIDENTIAL-RESULTS-DECLARED-ON-9_3_2013.pdf)

 

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Filed under 2013 Presidential Elections, Democracy, Elections, Justice, Kenya, Life, Politics, Uncategorized

Partial Justice is NOT Impartial Justice!

I find it interesting, indeed ironic that the Supreme Court of Kenya (SCOK) has ruled against a forensic audit of the Information Technology system used by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) in the March 4 presidential elections claiming that to do so would “jeopardize the petition.”

Justice Mohammed Ibrahim, speaking for the SCOK argued that the legal team representing the Coalition for Reform & Democracy (CORD) was “time barred” in filing the motion asking the court to compel the IEBC to allow an audit of the information technology (IT) system; adding rather curiously that the commission “cannot produce a complete IT infrastructure…before the hearings of the petitions begin on Wednesday.”

It is this uniquely Kenyan tendency of short-circuiting institutional processes, be it procurement tenders or as is the case here, comprehensive judicial review of evidence at the very root of an election petition that sours most Kenyans on these very institutions that are meant to represent their interests, impartially and comprehensively. That the Supreme Court is not willing to allow an audit, complete or partial, of the very system at the heart of the current dispute is strange to say the least and begs several questions including the following:

• While providing the “complete IT infrastructure” within a compressed time is indeed laborious, isn’t the quest for justice THE over-arching issue?
• Is the laborious nature of the request (for the complete IT infrastructure) the only reason the request was denied? Why didn’t the court allow an audit of randomly selected infrastructure components, especially those containing suspect data i.e. from constituencies that were under suspicion?
• Isn’t there the risk of missing evidence that may bolster CORD’s case or validate IEBC’s ruling?
• Doesn’t this ruling, at a minimum, give the impression of an incomplete, partial or selective hearing of the evidence thus de-legitimizing the petition process and its end result – determining who won the presidential elections of 2013?

Like all Kenyans, I want the petition resolved expeditiously and peacefully. I then want the country to move forward, regardless of the outcome but to paraphrase a saying, “partial justice is not impartial justice.” The Supreme Court is doing the country a disservice by refusing to review ALL the evidence.

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